Get ready for the no-frills November sweeps. For the first time in over a dozen years, a sweeps period is going to resemble-well, almost resemble-a normal month at the major broadcast networks.
Because of the late-starting Summer Olympics, a handful of debates and baseball playoffs, the networks will be highlighting series programming this November. At least, most of the time.
"Everybody is doing a lot less stunting, simply because the season started five minutes before the November sweeps," says Jeff Bader, ABC Entertainment's executive vice president. "November is usually the cleanest sweep in terms of stunting anyway, but now it's squeaky clean. We do have some [stunts] sprinkled in, but we really need to try and maintain as close to a regular schedule as possible to give our new shows a chance."
One big difference this November compared with years past is the number of new and returning shows making their season premieres during the month. At FOX, where the World Series will likely run right up against the start of the November sweeps (Nov. 2 to Nov. 29), a number of shows will get their first air-dates of the season. The network will unveil its powerful Sunday-night lineup on Nov. 5 with new episodes of
The Simpsons, Malcolm in the Middle
David E. Kelley's new drama Boston Public
will debut on Nov. 6, and Darren Star's The $treet
will get going just one day before the sweep on Nov. 1. NBC's new comedyDAG with David Alan Grier and Delta Burke launches on Nov. 14.
There are only three miniseries set for the month. CBS gets the month rolling with its two-part Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis
(Nov. 5 and Nov. 8), and then it's the O.J. Simpson murder-trial miniseries American Tragedyon Nov. 12 and Nov. 15. NBC only has one miniseries next month, the Bible epic In The Beginning, which airs Nov. 12 and 13.
The WB is going to let its regular programming do the talking for almost the entire sweeps period, with only a few guest-star appearances and just a few stunts. Possibly the biggest event at The WB during November is supermodel Tyra Banks' addition to the cast of drama Felicity.
"Our belief as a network has always been in building up series assets, we are not a network that has stunted our way through sweeps in the past," says Jordan Levin, The WB's new co-president of entertainment.
There are plenty of movies, both original and box-office hits. On the original front, CBS has James Brolin inChildren of Fortune, Patty Duke in Love Lessons and The Moving of Sophia Myles, starring Della Reese. ABC has several new films airing under The Wonderful World of Disney moniker, including The Growing Pains Movie,
which reunites the ABC cast.
NBC will be making a movie weekend out of the Thanksgiving holiday once again. This year, they will have the network premiere of Titanic on Nov. 26, and a two-hour Providence episode/film is set for Nov. 24.
Other theatricals include Fox's Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery(Nov. 23); GI Jane on ABC (Nov. 11); and UPN's airing of The Players Club (Nov. 28).
Reality will be everywhere-not only at Fox-in November. ABC has its latest magic special with David Blaine and is also shaking up Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? by airing celebrity and family editions of the game.
FOX has its usual array of reality specials lined up, too.
Surprise Wedding will air on Nov. 2, and there will also be a second installment of Battle of the Child Geniuses, in which 40 kids will compete for a $300,000 first-place prize.
And how about the two-hour Cops' Top 15 Moments
on Nov. 16. By then, a few of the new series ought to have been shot full of holes.